Christmas in Connecticut (1945), a jewel of a holiday romantic comedy, was released at a time unlike any other in America...scant months after VE Day, just days before VJ Day - and by December 1945, World War II was finally over and many veterans were home in time for Christmas.
A Time Magazine article of December 24, 1945 observed, “For most Americans, on the first Christmas without war since 1938, these two facts transcended all others: peace…had come back to earth; millions of U.S. fighting men, now a peaceful army of longed-for occupation, were streaming back to their homes…”
A reviewer of the recent book Christmas 1945 observed the contrast between 1945 and the previous Christmas, “In 1944, the Allies thought they had the war nearly won when the last days of turmoil broke out in a wooded, mountainous region of Germany. The Battle of the Bulge was to be the last major conflict in a war winding down…If Christmas 1944 was a frightening reminder that the war was not really over yet, Christmas 1945 was a collective prayer, a nationwide sigh of relief.“
With Christmas in Connecticut, director Peter Godfrey spins an appealing home front fantasy. Barbara Stanwyck stars as New York sophisticate Elizabeth Lane, popular writer for a women's magazine. Lane's forte is home and hearth and her articles wax euphoric about her house in Connecticut, her husband, her baby and the joys of homemaking...with loads of household hints and recipes. But none of it is true. Not married nor a mother, Lane can’t cook, doesn’t clean – and has no interest in any of it! However, almost no one, including her publisher, knows this.
But…very soon a Navy vet (Dennis Morgan) is headed her way thanks to his nurse/fiancée’s letter to Lane’s publisher (Sydney Greenstreet). The sailor, recently rescued after weeks adrift at sea on a raft where he endlessly dreamed of fine food (like this entree), has visions of an Elizabeth Lane-style holiday. With the war still on, Lane's publisher is not about to disappoint a returning hero...so the vet's wish is granted. Lane’s masquerade goes off the rails and she ends up under a romantic spell, ready to give up her "bachelor girl" high life for the regular guy, a war veteran, who's stolen her heart…
The farcical plot, an outstanding cast and a set replete with snowy New England sleigh-ride scenery create a heartwarming and reassuringly merry Christmas movie.
The popularity of Christmas in Connecticut seems to grow with each passing holiday…but that first year, the film's original Yuletide season, was singular...
Writer Bob Burdick, whose boyhood during WWII included “air raid drills, blackouts, rationing, and simply doing without...” recalled his father’s return from the war and remembered that though money was tight that year and his own gifts under the tree numbered just two, “before the day was over, I considered these gifts the best I’d ever received.” Looking back Burdick added, “no Christmas has been more memorable than the one of 1945.”